Sir Bradley Wiggins is in line to ride on the track at the Commonwealth Games if he misses out on the Tour de France.
The 2012 champion said last week that he would not be riding this year’s Tour, but Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford has since insisted the team has not yet been selected.
Wiggins was yesterday named in the road team for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he will look to repeat his Olympic success in the time trial. But technical director Shane Sutton confirmed the 34-year-old could also slot into the track team. Wiggins has won six medals, including three golds, across three Olympic Games on the track and has set his sights on returning to the boards in Rio in two years’ time.
“Brad’s still in contention for the Tour,” said Sutton. “Dave’s very supportive of Brad, he’s had a long relationship with him and would like to see him at the Tour. But there’s a process they have to go through. I think they go down to 13 names in the next week or so and Brad’s on that list.
“He’s off to the Tour de Suisse as part of Tour de France preparation so, from my point of view, we can’t see Brad on the track at this moment in time but, if he misses out on the Tour, then I’m quite sure that he’d soon transfer to the track.
“He’s done a bit of track work. Obviously he needs to keep in touch on the track because he’s stated clearly his ambition is to link up with the boys and win a gold medal in Rio. What we tend to do here, everything’s evidence based, so we look at Brad at the track and we take the numbers. Brad’s there now, we know he can step up.”
Wiggins would have the option of racing in the team or individual pursuit, or both, in Glasgow. The team pursuit quartet won gold without him at the London Olympics but a much-changed line-up could only finish eighth at the World Championships in Colombia this year.
Ed Clancy was the only man to compete in both races, and he insisted it would not be a problem if Wiggins were to slot in at late notice.
“Brad is such a good, natural bike rider,” said Clancy. “For a lot of people I think it would be difficult but if in two weeks’ time he doesn’t get selected [for the Tour] and he decides he wants to ride the track, then I would have no problem at all.
“He’s done the track for years, he’s won Olympic gold medals on the track, it would be like a duck to water. There would be somebody who would lose out and be a little bit upset but the chances are there’ll be other events and opportunities.”
The road team also features Alex Dowsett, Ian Stannard, Stephen Cummings, Jon Dibben, Tom Moses, Andy Tennant and Scott Thwaites, but not reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome. Froome is the favourite to successfully defend the Tour’s yellow jersey and Sutton revealed he turned down the chance to compete in Glasgow.
“Obviously he’s got his sights set on the Tour and with that comes a lot of commitment,” said Sutton. “It’s an opportunity for other younger riders so it was nice of him to inform us. It’s disappointing not to have him here but we’re quite comfortable with that.”
As well as Wiggins and Clancy, Olympic champions Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King, Steven Burke, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes also feature in a strong England team.
Rowsell, Trott and King are in both track and road teams, with the women’s road team led by Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead and also featuring Emma Pooley and young talents Hannah Barnes and Lucy Garner.
Para-sport cycling will be at the games for the first time in Glasgow and two-times world champion Sophie Thornhill will represent England, piloted by Helen Scott.
Australia dominated the cycling events at the 2010 Games in Delhi, winning 14 of the 18 gold medals. England are sending a much stronger team this time and Sutton insisted that the goal is to put down a marker on the road to Rio.
“We’re going to Glasgow to perform,” he said. “We’ve looked at this as an opportunity halfway through, to go through the cycle and see where we’re at. It is a young squad but our job from Team England’s point of view is to deliver.
“We’re not putting a team out there to learn, we’re putting a team out there to win.”